12 Days of Christmas (#5): Winter Warmers

This isn’t strictly a Christmas post, but I felt like it was getting forgotten, and one of the items of clothing included is rather Christmassy (and rather vintage…)!

I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite things to wear/do over the winter and Christmas season, so here goes:

2013-12-16 21.41.22I absolutely adore my tartan scarf this season – I actually bought it in August, not to be stylish or fashionable, but because I was at the Edinburgh Fringe and it was cold and windy. The scarf was needed so I bought it, and I’m so glad you did. Mine is 100% lambswool, and is a little itchy, but I couldn’t quite stretch the budget to a cashmere one!

I’m also loving all of the lovely berry-coloured hats this year – I bought a beret from Primark a few weeks ago and I really like wearing it. I’ve also asked for a bobble hat in the same colour for Christmas!

Then there’s my beloved Kindle – there’s nothing better than curling up in front of the fire with a good book.

Finally, there’s this chunky cardigan, which has become my favourite thing. Its baggy and cosy, looks great with skinny jeans or leggings, and is perfect for lounging around, layering under coats for a cold walk, or indeed lectures. Best of all – its older than me! It was actually one of my mum’s 18th birthday presents, it features in many family photos (including her getting ready for her 21st and her hen night, and loads of my baby photos) and its such a constant thing in my life that I love getting it out each winter. Check out the pattern on the back too;

2013-12-16 21.42.24So cute, I will definitely be wearing this at some point on Christmas day!

2013-12-16 21.49.49Here’s a couple of other things I’m loving this winter/Christmas!

  • First of all, you can virtually always find me in thick fluffy socks, even in summer. I’m liking these Cath Kidston bed socks as they are non-slip, not too thick (so can actually wear in bed) and they have a cute penguin pattern. I’m lucky enough to have the matching pyjamas too!
  • Then there’s the hot chocolate and chocolate combo – I’m a huge fan of Cadbury’s, so that’s my go-to brand.
  • Toastie’s. I love a good toastie in the winter, and this book has been great for making up new ideas and combinations. I don’t actually own a sandwich toasted, and currently fry mine in a pan, but I’m looking to invest in a cheap one in the new year.
  • Now the last things is a little strange, but I’ve become addicted to room and linen sprays lately. I find that having the central heating on and drying clothes inside can lead to a musty smell, and this covers it perfectly. Not the cheapest, but wonderful when it’s half price!

 

What are you loving this Christmas? Do you have any much-loved handed down clothing items?

 

 

 

Review: A5 Original Filofax in Patent Black

I have a few points to make before I begin the proper review of this lovely Filofax. Firstly, thank you to Steve of Philofaxy for featuring my blog on various posts, and for putting Jess from The Ideas Network in contact with me. Then, thanks to Jess for sending me this Filofax, and for putting up with the long wait before this review has been published. It arrived in the middle of my exams, and obviously getting a 1st (which I’m over the moon about!) took a lot of work and needed no Filofax-shaped distractions. Thirdly, thank you to whoever nominated me for “Best New Filofax Blogger” in the Philofaxy 2013 Blog Awards. They feature some excellent blogs, so the nominees are well worth a glance at, and please vote in the sidebar for who you feel is the worthy winner!

 

A quick warning – my pictures aren’t currently very great at the moment – I only have my phone as a camera (as much as I’d love a digital camera, I really don’t know how to use one, and I really don’t see how much better they could be). Normally my phone takes pretty amazing shots, with some spectacular ones taken in the Switzerland Mountains last summer, but for some reason it seems to fail in focussing occasionally. A lot of these photos were taken on one of these occasions.

 

2013-06-07 14.27.44

So, here’s the lovely note, and almost lovely packing sent to me by Jess. The packaging is almost lovely because I unwrapped it in excitement, then tried to rewrap it!

2013-06-07 14.28.11

And here’s the Filofax in its actual packaging – what you would receive if you bought and ordered it. I’m not convinced it’s an improvement on the old box-type packaging. I can see the point if they are in a shop – sort of. As long as one was out for the prospective purchaser to feel (and, erm…sniff…?) the rest being in the packaging could be beneficial as it would prevent accidental damage, and fingerprints. But then, I know from experience and reading many blogs that Filofaxes leather can vary hugely between each actual Filofax – many have commented their Maldens feel differently, and I have to say the leather on my card holder (see here) and personal vintage pink (see this post) are quite different in texture. My biggest bugbear with this packaging is that it would not be protective AT ALL if items are sent in the post. And the last thing you want to receive is a damaged Filofax!

 

First of all, I’m going to discuss the basics of this Filofax. It’s actually made by some of my favourite people at The Leather Satchel Co (if you remember this post, you’ll note how I wished for a matching/coordinating Filofax and bag – that wish came true!) and so is truly made in the UK. I’m not sure if the ring mechanism is also made in the UK, but the leather does show the true quality that appears in many of the vintage Filofaxes (I keep losing out whilst bidding on Ebay – I’ve love a vintage Mulberry organiser, or a Filofax of course!). It’s a single piece of leather, with no cardboard in between layers as I’m led to believe is in the Malden. The leather is nice and thick, but with a huge bonus – it lay flat straight out of the box! My Malden also did this, but quite a few Filofaxes need training, or never lie flat at all, so it’s worth a look at this product is that is something important to you. Everything feels very strong, and sturdy – I do get a feeling that it is a Filofax that is built to last. Here is is:

2013-07-05 11.46.11

Compared to my Malden, it is quite simplistic in terms of the insides, no fancy zips or pockets. I’m not entirely sure whether this is a good or bad thing. It definitely wouldn’t work if you’re like me and want to store your whole life in there, and use it as a purse. However, I think this is going to be my placement Filofax, in which case it doesn’t need all that storage. Also, the big elastic strap is the perfect size for holding my current phone (Samsung Galaxy S2) although seeing as I use this as a camera I have no photographic evidence. I have no idea what the slots could be used for!

2013-07-05 11.47.05

One thing I do like is the back pocket/features. There’s a wide pocket, which could be used as a notebook storage, or possibly for some papers/post-it notes. But my favourite feature is the jotter pad. I think this is an excellent feature, and perfect for a leftie like me as it’s easy to write on. One thing I do think is that a right-handed person may struggle as the folder’s strap does tend to get in the way from that side. Comments welcome on that matter!

2013-07-05 11.50.23

 

Now to the insides and inserts. Here comes the big issue – rings. The fifth ring down, the exact same one as my Malden, has a gap. It’s not quite big enough to snag pages, but it is noticeable. And to me, I really don’t think Filofax should be selling expensive products with continually appearing faults like this. I know many over on the Philofaxy community agree with this viewpoint, and it’s something Filofax should really work on in the future. I’d attempt to swap both my Filofax to get ones with better rings, but (1) I don’t want to risk not being able to get another Vintage Pink Malden, and (2) this Filofax was a gift, so obviously asking for a better one is hugely cheeky and just not something I would do!

2013-07-05 11.49.24

Inserts. This Filofax came with a good variety of inserts, of which I have a lot of photos. I won’t post all of them, but if anyone requires to see them they will be in a folder on my Facebook page.  Another complaint however is the dividers. I’m not sure what on earth Filofax were thinking here – they look cheap and tacky! I love the Cotton Cream ones in my Malden, and I’d expect these as a minimum standard in any other leather Filofax. These look and feel far inferior, and I will be covering them at first opportunity, or buying some more! Inserts included a To Do List (I love Filofax’s layout of this sheet), a Contacts list (new, and in my opinion improved, from the one that came in my Malden), various bits of paper in various colours (narrow-ruled lined, square and plain) and then there are the diaries. Sorry Filofax, but here comes another complaint! If you are going to send me a 2014 diary, and one with the remainder of the 2013 months, at least make it so you’ve sent me the same layout! Rant over, as I utterly adore the layout of the 2014 diary, picture below. It just seems perfect for a business diary, and something I will probably make full use of next year. You know, when it actually starts.

 

Finally, I’m going back to the outside of the Filofax. The patent finish is very shiny, which I think is clearly shown on the next photograph, where the Filofax is alongside my Malden, and my Leather Satchel. I like how it looks, but for me is just isn’t particularly practical in that I’m becoming obsessive about removing fingerprints!

2013-07-05 11.53.38

The next photo shows the thickness of the leather, compared to my Malden. Remember that the Original is a single piece of leather, unlike the Malden.

2013-07-05 11.54.31

The photo above gives an indication of the size different between a personal Malden and the A5 Original. The next photo also does the same. To me, I like the size of the A5. I couldn’t use it as an everyday planner (or I’d need an even bigger satchel!) but I like the idea of using it as a desk planner and meeting note-taking.

2013-07-05 11.53.08

 

All-in-all, I really like the style of this Filofax as a folder. I think Filofax need to rethink the inserts they send out (consistency would be nice!) and the provider of their ring mechanisms. But they do need to do more good quality, simply leather Filofaxes, and I love that this is made in the UK. I like the patent leather, my OCD doesn’t. I also love all the other colours available (if I hadn’t had a satchel to match, I’d have gone with either the yellow or the green – the more fashionistas amongst you might be tempted by the fluro range too!) and I think it would be a perfect organiser to give as a graduation gift or similar, as it would be ideal for a working environment. It won’t oust my Malden as the holder of my life, but at the moment I can see it working as a careers Filofax, in helping me find a placement for my industrial year and keeping track of all the work I do whilst I’m there.

So that’s my review of Filofax’s new folder, made in the UK, and lying flat! If you have any questions about this organiser, please don’t hesitate to contact me either on here, through Twitter, or on my Facebook page.

2013-07-05 11.46.54

 

 

 

Once again, thank you to Jess for sending me this Filofax for review, and to Philofaxy for giving me the opportunity to get into contact with Jess. Oh, and remember to vote for my blog your favourite blog in their awards – voting takes place in the left-hand side bar!

I Should Have Been A Student In The Eighties

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m obsessively and unhelpfully organised. I say unhelpfully; when plans change for reasons beyond my control, it kind-of upsets me, and definitely stresses me out! Tonight I’m going to blog all about one of the ways I stay organised – my Filofax.

Filofax’s were really popular way before I was born, in the Eighties. I love the Eighties, I wish I was my age (too close to 20 for my liking!) in that decade. Everything just seems so much simpler, the music was better (I’ve been addicted to Bon Jovi for many years now) and it wasn’t seen as odd to carry a Filofax. I get a few funny looks when I full out my Filofax, and I think that’s a shame. Just imagine how many less people would miss deadlines if they actually wrote them down! That said, I think they are beginning to become more popular. I’ve seen a few around and about, particularly on trains, and I even see a girl on Loughborough University campus jogging with one a few days back…

Back in the “good old days” a sign of popularity was whether your Filofax was stuffed full or not. Nowadays, people are being a lot more creative. If you look on any of Philofaxy’s ‘Web Finds’ post you’ll find many links to other blogs showing their Filofax set ups, complete with bright colours, stickers, washi tape etc. They’re not limited to diaries and business-card-holds – you can buy and make so many different types of inserts, and they’re completely versatile.  I currently use mine as a complete organiser, and here it is…

20130609_184035

I have a Personal sized Vintage Pink Malden. I agonised for weeks about which Filofax I wanted (it was a gift from my parents in reward for my A-level results). I knew I wanted a Personal sized one (for those who are wondering about sizes, have a look here). Basically, these are roughly the same size as the academic diaries given out yearly by many schools, they aren’t too bulky, but nor are they too small (being a very awkward left-hander, I was conscious I’d struggle to write in anything smaller).

After going and touching them up in Paperchase, Rymans, and pretty much anywhere I could get my hands on them, much to the embarrassment of my other half, I finally decided that I definitely wanted a leather organiser. They’re just softer, and more luxurious. Because lets face it, if you’re a student being offered luxury, grab it with both hands and make the most of it! If you’re just starting out on the ‘getting organised’ route and are not sure you’d use a Filofax, I’d suggest getting a non-leather one, or even an alternative brand, as they are very pricey. After much more stroking and leather smelling, I fell in love with the softness, floppiness and luxury feel of the Maldens. It is such a strokeable (yes I sit and stroke my Filofax…) leather, and it smells so lovely too! I then had to decide about colour. I was deeply tempted by the Ochre colour, but in the end the girliness inside me won. Vintage Pink it was. The colour is ridiculously hard to photograph, I’ve seen nothing which has managed it, but I’m hoping the following photo shows it off reasonably well:

2013-06-06 18.56.10

I apologise for the quality of all of these photographs – my university accommodation attracts a lot of sunlight in the evening, and I also wanted to use as much natural light as possible as I often find colours distort under artificial light.

Inside my Malden there is a lot of pockets and card slots – perfect for someone who likes to stay as organised as me. I keep all of my bank, and loyalty cards inside, as well as ID and stamps. Anything I might need in fact! The zipped pocket holds spare change, and emergency £5, and a memory stick.

2013-06-06 18.58.042013-06-06 19.04.15

Although you can’t really tell from my photos, the fifth ring down is misaligned. Not hugely, but enough to make my pages catch and be annoying. I’m not too sure what to do about it though!

Skipping to the back of my Filofax now. Built in there are two large pockets, and a pen loop at the back. The top (horizontal opening) pocket is one that is used a lot. It is the perfect size for my passport, and also houses a pen and usually a Filofax holepunch. It is very significant that the pocket houses the pen – the pen loop on my Malden is actually fully closed up – if you push a pen through it can’t go through as there is an ‘end’ to the loop. This is clearly a fault, but as you can’t get hold of these Filofaxes anymore, its a problem I again don’t know how to address! The pen I use is a black Pilot Frixion – one of those erasable ones. I use these all the time, apart from for coursework and exams. I love them, they don’t smudge from my (dodgy leftie) handwriting, don’t bleed through, and last a reasonably long time. Well about a week, but I do use them a lot. Next year I hope to use some of the coloured ones to make my Filofax a little bit more organised, but I couldn’t fit them in the budget for this year. The holepunch I have is a WHSmiths branded one. Its fiddly and difficult to use  –  I’m definitely in the market for a more sturdy one, preferably one that punches A5 filofaxes too. Any ideas?

2013-06-06 19.03.23

To up the storage in my Filofax, I make good use of the card holder inserts that came included, and I also bought two zip pocket inserts from Paperchase. I use the extra card holders for business cards, and cards I don’t use as often as the ones in the front. Inside the zip-pockets goes receipts, and vouchers. You can see a Golden Ticket in the following picture – this is the voucher I received from my other half for Christmas, and entitled us to an afternoon of Chocolate making at a shop in Loughborough (review to follow I think!). I also keep some painkillers in my Filofax, just for sudden migraines.

2013-06-06 19.02.49

So, now you’ve explored the actual physical features of my Filofax, it’s time to take you inside and show you how I use it.

I use it mainly as a diary/organiser. For this, at the moment, I am still using the original inserts that came with the Filofax – week to view. This doesn’t work particularly well for me. At the start of the academic year, I was really organised and colour-coded everything. As is very clear from the photos, I got bored of this, and instead it now contains a lot of scribbles, and a lot less writing. I’ll definitely aim to use it a little more next year – hopefully with some more suitable inserts. The best I’ve seen are on Philofaxy, but I don’t have a good enough printer so I’d be looking for someone to print and send them to me for a bit of payment – not sure who to approach about that, definitely something to look into over the summer! I ideally want  something a little like the undated planners, but with only half a page per day, and less note-taking space.

2013-06-06 18.58.482013-06-06 18.59.172013-06-06 18.59.37

As you can see, my Filofax definitely got more bare as the year went on, and I think the main reason for that is the setup just wasn’t right for me – definitely need to change my planner style!

Next is an insert which does get a lot of use – a horizontal year planner. I got mine from WHSmiths, as I prefer the layout and font. Plus its cheaper, particularly as there’s no shipping costs. I use this to record term dates, deadlines, exams, breaks, boyfriend visits, holidays, rent payments, pay-days, work commitments. I have to be intelligent in how I note things in, as the space is very small. I also use the back (note spaces separated by month) to jot down train times relating to that month.

2013-06-06 19.00.08

I then also have a ‘weekly’ section in my Filofax. This is homemade, using a Philofaxy template, and involves a physical copy of my university timetable. This year I used a bright pink paper, I’m going to tone it down a bit next year!

2013-06-06 19.01.232013-06-06 19.01.00

I love this layout, as it shows when my free periods are, when I’m busy at the weekend, work commitments (which change weekly due to my wonderfully flexible job), visits to the boyfriend, lecture venues, and just about everything. I don’t include deadlines though. I’m not sure whether I will continue this for next year, though, as my lecture timings get more complicated (so there’s won’t be enough timeslots), and my university does have a very good system and so my timetable is synced seamlessly onto my phone calender. I will look for another type of weekly planner though. Or maybe a monthly one. I just feel something a bit more detailed than my yearly one would be a good idea.

A quick note about dividers. I still use the ones that came with the Filofax (the lovely cotton cream ones), although the A-Z ones are currently hiding in a drawer somewhere. I don’t use them in any particular way – their headings don’t match up to the contents, but I know where things are. I may cover them with a nice cream or plain-ish pattern over summer, and just use them unlabelled.

I then have a Finance section. At the beginning of the year, I used Filofax’s standard finance inserts, but it got very confusing. Plus to look at my sorry empty balance was getting a little depressing. So I gave up and just relied on my internet banking. I do however keep a note of what I’m spending any physical cash on, as I find otherwise I’d spend it here, there and everywhere.

2013-06-06 19.02.06

I keep a section full of To Do List inserts. These are from Paperchase, and I really, really, really dislike the border – I’ll definitely splash out on nicer ones for next year as they really annoy me, and the paper feels so cheap and scratchy. But they do the job I suppose. (the following shows a typical fortnightly shop for me).

2013-06-06 19.00.31

Finally, I thought I’d share with you one of my favourite things about the Filofax brand. If you register your Filofax, and put it’s unique code on a sheet which comes with every Filofax, then if you lose it, and if someone finds it, they can contact Filofax with this code, it will be returned to you and they will receive a free gift. I recommend every Filofax owner registers theirs, as I know I’d be devastated if I lost mine!

2013-06-06 18.58.19

I’ve had my Filofax for around 9 months now, and its hardly worn at all. There’s the few issues (rings and pen loop) that I have pointed out, and it also arrived with a dent on the front. But you can rarely get hold of these now, so I’m prepared to put up with it. I really do love it – the perfect way to look smart, but a little pretty, unique and slightly vintage-y, and stay organised.

And so that’s my Filofax. And one of the reasons why I should have been a student in the eighties. That and my hair would have fitted in a little bit better than it does now!

2013-06-09 18.41.39

 

If you liked this blog post, feel free to check out this, and this.